Wherever you travel, one of things that it almost always on the list of the things to see in a city will be a historic bridge. Obviously, bridges serve an important function to allow people to cross rivers or large crevasses safely. Over time, though, they became places to display art and statues or were dedicated to honor famous citizens of a city. We have seen many fascinating bridges over the years and it would be hard for us to choose a favorite. Whether it is the height of the bridge in Ronda, the uniqueness of Ponte Vecchio in Florence, or the artwork of the Charles Bridge in Prague, they are all beautiful in their own way. The beauty of bridges isn’t isolated to Europe as we have seen many interesting bridges in the US as well in places like Chicago and Pittsburgh. What is the most interesting bridge that you have seen?
Széchenyi Chain Bridge in Budapest, Hungary
The first permanent bridge across the Danube river in Hungary is the Széchenyi Chain Bridge, often just referred to as the Chain Bridge. It was built in 1849 and connects the cities of Buda and Pest, allowing the cities to join to become the capital of Hungary. It is credited as having changed Hungary by increasing it’s prosperity and cultural influence. The bridge connects the Széchenyi Square on the Pest side of the Danube with the Clark Adam Square on the Buda side and is a pedestrian bridge in addition to motorized traffic.
We crossed the Széchenyi Chain Bridge from the Pest district in order to go to Castle Hill in the Buda district. The funicular, or cable car, that takes you to the top of Castle Hill is located near the bridge, making it an easy way to walk from the old town of Pest to see the sights within the Castle District. The entrance to the bridge features sculptures of lions carved out of stone, which are quite impressive. The bridge was destroyed in 1945 by the Germans as they retreated, but the towers survived and the bridge was rebuilt and reopened in 1949.
The views from the bridge are quite stunning including views of the Danube River, the Parliament Building, Elizabeth Bridge, the Citadella, and Buda Castle. The Széchenyi Chain Bridge is definitely one of the most visible landmarks in Budapest as it can be seen from all of the scenic overviews located on both sides of the river. When visiting Budapest, it is certainly worth taking the time to stroll across the bridge and enjoy the sights from either direction.
Top Things to See in Prague, Czech Republic
One of our favorite cities in Europe is Prague in the Czech Republic. With its medieval charm, you could spend hours wandering the streets of old town or the lesser quarter with the castle complex. There are many wonderful sights to see, but these were our favorite ones in no particular order. Because Prague is a popular tourist destination, you can certainly count on plenty of crowds wherever you go.
- Prague Castle – Some of the best views of the castle complex can be found from across the Vltava River where you can get a true sense of its size. Seeing it from the distance isn’t good enough, though, you should take the time to go to the castle and get tickets to tour the grounds and inside. The castle complex is made up of several buildings from the fortress, presidential palace, smaller palaces, as well as several churches.
- Charles Bridge – With its impressive guard towers, two on the side of the lesser quarter and one on the side of old town, the bridge is truly stunning. There are many statues, all of which are replicas of their original ones, making it one of the most unique bridges in Europe. Throughout the year, you will find musicians playing historic instruments as well as many different artists selling their works all along the bridge. It can get quite crowded on the bridge, so patience is a must.
- Astronomical Clock – Located in the old town square on the southern wall of the town hall, the Astronomical Clock is quite fascinating to see. Crowds gather at the top of the hour to watch the “Walk of the Apostles” where the figures of the Apostles and other figures, including a skeleton representing Death, move around the clock face.
- Saint Vitus Cathedral – Although it is part of the castle complex, the cathedral certainly stands out as being worthy to visit on its own. With its Gothic architecture, it is the largest and most important cathedral in the Czech Republic. The colorful artwork above the arches definitely stand out as you approach the cathedral. The clock tower is clearly visible from all around the city.
- Old Town Square – With many shops and restaurants, there is plenty to see in the old town area of Prague. Although there is plenty to see in the square itself, be sure to wander the side streets where you will find even more stores with unique items for sale. If you are wanting to taste some authentic, local food, many options abound, but you will likely want to make reservations as they can be hard to get into at busy times of the year.
- The Lennon Wall – What started as a tribute to John Lennon after his death, the wall has continued to be a dedication to the artist, the Beatles, and to ideals that they expressed. It is an ever-changing work of art as people continuously add to it with their own interpretations. You will also often find artists there playing songs from the Beatles as well.
- River Boat Cruise – As with many cities, seeing Prague from the Vltava River is a wonderful way to get a different view of the city. Many of them offer dinner cruises or even an afternoon cruise offering wine and beer. Even without the narrative providing the historical facts regarding the buildings along the river, it is a pleasant way to spend an hour or two on the water.
There are certainly plenty of other places within Prague that are worth visiting, but these were ones that we enjoyed the most. We didn’t make it to any museums during our trip, but there are plenty, including the National Museum, if you have the time to spend to see the various exhibits and collections. Regardless of what sights you decide to see, Prague is a beautiful city and is best enjoyed at a relaxing pace in order to truly enjoy everything that it has to offer. Make sure to take time to slow down and absorb the sights and sounds, you will enjoy the city much more than if you rush from one historic site to another.